Thursday, March 26, 2020

Great Scenes 6: Paths of Glory (a tour of the trenches)

Stanley Kubrick's fourth film Paths of Glory remains unforgettable over 60 years later. Set in the trenches of France during the First World War, the story explores the dehumanizing nature of war. General George Broulard played by Adolphe Menjou will order a pointless attack. After it predictably fails he decides to execute three random soldiers for cowardice just to set an example. Kirk Douglas in in one his iconic roles stands up for human decency by defending the wrongly accused soldiers. In this scene General Broulard inspects the trenches for a brief visit. With Kubrick's trademark tracking shot, allowing us to observe the conditions of the trenches, we're thrust into this world. The martial drumming adds to the sense of absurdity and war weariness among the troops. The cruelty of the general also speaks to Kubrick's recurring theme in his films on the irrational nature of hierarchies. 

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